The best day trips from Naples, Italy
While there are plenty of things to do in the beautifully chaotic city itself, some of the real gems of the region are found in the many day trips from Naples.
If you’re visiting Naples, I recommend you try to fit in as many of these day trips as possible, with each offering a different perspective on the life and heritage of this part of Italy.
With more than two thousands years of history, Naples has a lot to see. You can easily spend a few days – even a week – in Naples and still not feel like you’ve done everything you want to do.
It’s not just that there are a lot of sights to see in Naples, it’s also a city where you can spend your time walking the streets and absorbing the beautiful chaos that’s going on around you.
And don’t even get me started on how much time you can spend trying the pizza at different pizzerias around Naples (here’s a hint – each one will be delicious!).
I’ve written previously about my impressions of Naples and why I came to love the good, despite the bad.
I have also put together a guide of how to spend one day in the Historic Centre of Naples that I would recommend if you’re spending some time there.
But in this story, I want to talk about things that you can do outside Naples.
I really enjoyed spending a couple of weeks based in the city because it is a perfect base to do day trips from Naples to other sites in the area. And, believe me, there are a lot of incredible places to visit nearby!
Let me give you suggestions for more than a dozen day trips from Naples that I would recommend. I’ve marked each of them on the map below so you can get a sense of how far away they are.
Each of them is special in its own way and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you do all of them.
I spent my time doing as many Naples day trips as possible and that’s one of the reasons I love my time in this Italian city so much.
Royal Palace of Caserta
I’m really not sure why Caserta Palace is not more famous because it’s an incredible building and is, in fact, the world’s largest palace by volume.
The main palace building was built in the 18th century by the Bourbon Kings of Naples, who wanted something that would rival Versailles in France.
As soon as you arrive, you’ll get a sense of the size of Caserta Palace, which is shaped like a grid with four other wings and two inner wings creating four large courtyards. It’s when you go inside to see the Royal Apartments that you’ll realise the scale and grandeur continues with the interior as well.
The other important part of the Royal Palace of Caserta is the park. It stretches out from the back of the palace for more than three kilometres, until it hits the slope of a nearby hill. There are carefully-maintained lawns and light forests in the park, but the main element is the long water feature that stretches for most of the length.
Caserta is about 30 kilometres from central Naples and it can be easily reached with a direct train within about an hour. It will take a few hours to look through the Royal Apartments and explore the park. There’s also a small town around the palace, which has some nice places for a meal or a drink when you need a break!
If you’re interested in a guided tour or transportation from Naples to Caserta, there are a few options here:
Otherwise, I have more information about how to visit Caserta Palace independently in my story about the site.
As the biggest city in the region, Naples gets most of the attention, but the smaller and (slightly) calmer neighbouring city of Pozzuoli has lots going for it as well – whether you’re looking for history, food, or excitement.
The oldest part of the city is Rione Terra, a fortress built originally by Greeks in the 6th century BC but then taken over by the Romans about 500 years later. You’ll find some of the most important sights of Pozzuoli within its walls.
The most famous heritage sites in the city are the Macellum of Pozzuoli – a temple that was actually a marketplace – and the Flavian Amphiteatre – the third largest in Italy (the largest is, of course, the Colosseum.)
But aside from the ancient attractions, Pozzuoli is a colourful and busy city, particularly along the seafront. This is where you’ll find trendy bars and restaurants with great seafood, that may make for a nice sunset or evening outing.
You can get to Pozzuoli on the Metro (Line 2) so it’s an easy day trip from Naples, or you can even visit a few times if you don’t want to squeeze everything into the one visit.
One of the most famous archaeological sites in Italy – if not the world – is just on the doorstep and makes a great day trip from Naples. Of course, I’m talking about Pompeii.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and killed much of the Pompeii, it also had the effect of preserving this Ancient Roman city. What you can now explore is amazing.
Although the city is in ruins in some senses, the urban layout has not been destroyed as it has in almost every other ancient city from that period. There are also incredibly well-protected statues, frescoes, and mosaics.
You could easily spend all day at Pompeii – in fact, you could probably spend a couple of days and still not feel like you’ve seen everything. Or you could spend just a few hours and get a decent impression of what is there.
It’s easy to get to Pompeii by direct train from Naples, on either the Circumvesuviana line or on Trenitalia (which I would recommend as the better option). You may want to do a guided tour to make the most of what you’re seeing – and there are some great options here:
But, if you want to visit Pompeii from Naples by yourself, I have also put together a suggested itinerary with information about the highlights. I hope it’s useful.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the city of Herculaneum also felt its effects and was buried under 16 metres of ash and mud, preserving it in a similar way to nearby Pompeii.
If you have time, I think it’s worth visiting both archaeological sites. Herculaneum is much smaller and that’s actually a good thing. It means you can see all of it in a few hours and get a sense of how the whole Ancient Roman city operated (unlike Pompeii, where even a day still leaves you with more to explore).
Within the site, researchers have found an incredible collection of artefacts, including furniture and clothing… along with quite a few bodies of the 4000 residents. Because of the way the volcanic material settled here, many of the household items are better preserved than at Pompeii.
The local guides are able offer a deep insight to the ancient city, and there are some good options here:
You can reach Herculaneum from Naples on either the Circumvesuviana line or on Trenitalia (which I always prefer).
While we’re talking about Pompeii and Herculaneum, it would be foolish not to mention another option for a day trip from Naples – and that’s Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that caused such devastation.
The eruption in 79 AD that destroyed Pompeii was certainly not the last time it erupted. It’s estimated that Mount Vesuvius has blown up about 40 times since then. In fact, it’s the only volcano to have erupted in Europe in the past century and it’s still active.
You can hike up to the top of Mount Vesuvius, which I think is a really rewarding experience. The walk from the carpark is about 30 minutes uphill along a dirt track and it’s quite steep. (It’s not clear that you can easily hike from the very bottom of the mountain and I wouldn’t recommend it).
At the top of Mount Vesuvius, you can walk around the edge and look down into the crater. There are also great views of Naples, along the coastline, and across the Bay of Naples.
The best to get to Mount Vesuvius is by bus from the Ercolano Scavi station of the Circumvesuviana – but it’s a bit of a hassle. You may also want to take a tour straight from the city or combine a day trip from Naples with Pompeii with some of these options:
I have a bit more information about visiting independently and what to expect at the top in my story about hiking Mount Vesuvius.
Mount Vesuvius dominates the skyline around Naples, its hulking shape looming over the city and the bay. But it’s not the only volcano you can visit.
To the west of the city, near Pozzuoli, you’ll find Campi Flegrei, also known as the Phlegraean Fields. It’s a large volcano – but not a large mountain. Its caldera actually has about 24 craters but most of them are underwater.
Technically the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) stretches out over a large area, including Pozzuoli and even the island of Ischia. But if you’re looking for some volcanic action, it’s the Solfatara Crater that’s the focus. Steam comes up from the ground amongst Roman ruins and grottoes that were turned into sweat rooms.
One of the interesting but not well-known day trips from Naples that I would recommend is Paestum, which is about 90 kilometres to the southeast. It’s not one of the most famous places in the area, but it is surprisingly interesting.
Paestum is an ancient city that was founded by Greek settlers in about 600 BC. The city grew over the following centuries and became an important and wealthy centre in this part of the world. Today, you can see some of the remains of the city – but the real highlights are the three temples that remain.
The three large temples are considered to be the best-preserved Ancient Greek temples in the world… and that includes in Greece! What’s even more incredible is that you can walk inside the two largest ones to get a real sense of the scale and design of the structures.
Paestum also has a very good museum with artefacts that have been found in the area, including the famous ‘Tomb of the Diver’, which is a masterpiece in its own way. The whole area of Paestum has been designated as a World Heritage Site because of its significance.
You can get a direct train from Naples to Paestum, although there are only a few in each direction each day, so I would recommend planning your timings carefully. The small town around the site has some nice restaurants, so it usually makes sense to have lunch there.
There are some options for guided tours and I would recommend one of the following.
Or you can find out a bit more about visiting Paestum in my full story.
Cilento National Park
Near Paestum is the second largest national park in Italy, stretching from the coast up to the mountains, with wooded valleys and little towns.
Although it’s often just called Cilento National Park, officially its name is Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni National Park (Italian Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni). Because it’s such a large park, you could visit it for days… or for a week!
It’s not easy to get to Cilento National Park from Naples by public transport, so having a car is a better option. That also allows you to get to the start of the hiking trails and to the various heritage areas and small restaurants.
One of the best day trips from Naples that you can do is to the stunning Amalfi Coast, a jewel of the Tyrrhenian Sea. From Naples, it is very quick and easy to get to a few of the towns on the peninsula by either train or ferry.
The Amalfi Coast is a wonderful blend of nature (with hikes through the forests or along the coast), of rural life (with small farms dotted throughout the peninsula), or relaxed beach life (with lots of opportunities to swim), and a fashionable food and drink scene (with some amazing restaurants and cafes). And there’s even more for you to discover – the heritage, the arts, the nightlife.
I will make the comment that I actually think the Amalfi Coast deserves longer than just a day trip. If you have the time, you might want to consider spending a few nights in one of the cities or towns on the coast and do a bit more exploring or relaxing.
If you want to see a few of the different spots on the coast in one day, though, then the easiest way might be with one of these tours, that will save you spending hours on public transport:
But if you are only going to spend a day on the Amalfi Coast and are doing it independently, I would recommend just focusing on one location. I would suggest either Sorrento or Positano and I’ve got a bit more info about them now.
Sorrento is probably the best spot on the Amalfi Coast that is easy to access by public transport from Naples. There are regular ferries that come here directly and there’s also a train, meaning it’s the perfect spot for a day trip from Naples to get a taste of the peninsula.
The centre of Sorrento is a beautiful place, with a wealth of historic buildings to explore and then charming restaurants and clifftop bars where you can rest and enjoy the view.
If you’re feeling a bit active, go for a hike in the hills above Sorrento for panoramic vistas along the coast. if you would prefer to relax, maybe pay for entry into a beach club by the water where you can swim and have a couple of drinks.
I would recommend taking the ferry over in the morning and seeing the sights and maybe a hike in the first part of the day, then relax with a spritz an a swim before you come back on a sunset ferry ride. I’ve got details on how to do all of those things in story about a day trip to Sorrento from Naples.
The other most famous spot on the Amalfi Coast is Positano, the smaller but more colourful town that hugs a hillside and is beautiful from any direction. (It reminds me a little of visiting Cinque Terre.)
There’s less to do in Positano than Sorrento, but a visit here is more about relaxing than seeing the sights – although it doesn’t always feel relaxing during the peak tourist season.
Walk the streets and climb the steps to admire the vibrant houses, pop into the shops to see the fashion and (if you’re lucky) some local produce, or head down to the large beach at the waterfront where you may need to pay to get a spot on the sand.
Getting to Positano from Naples is a little time-consuming because you need to get to Sorrento first (by ferry, train, or bus) and then get a connecting bus (or possibly ferry) to Positano. It’s also possible to connect through Salerno but that’s a bit trickier.
After so many sights focused on history, perhaps it’s time for relaxation. From Naples, there is nowhere more luxurious or glamorous than Capri.
The island in the Bay of Naples may be known as a holiday spot for the rich and famous, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it too. You don’t even need to stay overnight on Capri to see some of the best of it.
The coastline is beautiful and the first taste of it will be the Marina Grande, with restaurants and cafes along the promenade. Up the hill is the town of Capri, where historical landmarks mix with boutique shops. The views from here across the island and across to the mountain are stunning.
Further along, the town of Anacapri is much quieter and a good base for any hikes you may want to do during the day.
Along the coast, there are beach clubs where you can relax and there will be plenty of offers for boat tours – including to the famous (but probably overrated) Blue Grotto.
The ferry from Naples to Capri takes about 50 minutes and you can easily go in the morning and then come back in the afternoon. During busy periods, I would recommend booking your tickets in advance here to guarantee a spot.
For more information on a day trip to Capri from Naples, you can read my full story.
And finally, while it doesn’t have the glamour of Capri, Ischia is an alternative that will give you many of the same things without all the pretentiousness!
The island was first settled in the 8th century BC so there are plenty of historic sights, including an impressive castle. But these days Ischia is probably better known for its spas and bars.
There are are few towns where you can choose to base yourself for the day and they each have their own characteristics – but expect dramatic coastal cliffs, stunning beaches, pretty gardens, and smaller crowds than Capri or Amalfi.
In some ways it is the perfect day trip from Naples because you get the island experience, the wonderful nature, the quaint towns, and it’s going to be cheaper and less stressful than some of the other options!
In conclusion, I think it would be a shame if you spent some time in this region and only focused on one particular city or series of landmarks. The true pleasure of Naples is the variety of rich experiences you can have with very limited travel each day.
But, as I said, Naples is a perfect place to base yourself. If you’re looking for accommodation in Naples, I have some suggestions here:
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN NAPLES
It’s easy to find your own bit of heritage in the beautiful accommodation options in historic Naples.
If you’re looking for a budget option, I would suggest the really fun Hostel of the Sun.
There are a few good cheap hotels – I would suggest Hotel Europeo Napoli in the historic centre.
For something with a bit more style, I would recommend the modern Palazzo d’Auria ApartHotel.
And when it comes to luxury, have a look at the incredible Palazzao Alabardieri.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NAPLES?
To help you plan your trip to Naples:
- The best things to do in Naples
- What you need to know before you go
- How to spend a day seeing the Historic Centre
- The best day trips from Naples
- A self-guided tour through the amazing Pompeii site
- The best way to hike up Mount Vesuvius
- Visiting the largest royal palace in the world
- How to do the Amalfi Coast as a day trip
- Joining the glitterati on the island of Capri
- The best Greek temples in the world… are in Italy?!
Let someone else do the work for you:
You may also want to consider taking a Italy tour that includes Naples, rather than organising everything on your own. It’s also a nice way to have company if you are travelling solo.
I am a ‘Wanderer’ with G Adventures and they have great tours in Italy.
You could consider:
When I travel internationally, I always get insurance. It’s not worth the risk, in case there’s a medical emergency or another serious incident. I recommend you should use World Nomads for your trip.